Spirits may be responsible for mayhem this All Hallows’ Eve, but they are likely to be of the man-made kind. Data on individuals monitored every 30 minutes for alcohol consumption shows drinking increases in general during Halloween, and that increase accelerates as the holiday falls closer to the weekend.
Drinking violations for criminal offenders sentenced to 24/7 alcohol monitoring rise nearly 30% when Halloween takes place on Friday or Saturday, compared to just 5% when it happens on a Monday. This year the holiday falls on Thursday, and drinking rates are expected to rise approximately 25%. Drinking during the weekend before Halloween is also expected to increase nearly 25%.
The data was compiled by Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), which monitors heavy drinkers 24/7 to ensure compliance with court- or treatment-mandated sobriety. For these individuals, drinking is a violation, and the consequence is often jail time, making the increase especially startling.
“These individuals are being monitored 24/7, every 30 minutes, and they know they’re going to be caught and face consequences. You can imagine the rate of drinking for those who aren’t being monitored,” says Lou Sugo, vice president of Marketing for AMS. “Drunk people generally make poor decisions, and deciding to get behind the wheel of a car is just one of the potential issues,” he adds. The AMS study looked at data from more than 305,000 offenders monitored since 2003 in 49 states.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), from 2007 to 2011, 52% of all national fatalities occurring on Halloween resulted from a drunk driving-related crash. NHTSA is publicizing the data as part of their ongoing Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over awareness campaign. Officials caution that sobriety checkpoints will be prominent on Halloween, which has become one of the deadliest days of the year for drunk driving.
AMS manufactures and markets SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM CAM), an ankle-worn bracelet that automatically samples a person’s sweat in order to test for alcohol consumption. The compliance rate includes tamper or removal violations, as well as actual drinking.